Editor’s Note: Earlier today, Ruby Jane Anderson sent us the following about why she and other members of the Philadelphia Student Union disrupted the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s showing of the anti-union movie, Won’t Back Down.
Yesterday, the School Reform Commission held a movie night in honor of Parent Appreciation Month. The movie they chose to screen, Won’t Back Down, is an anti-union, pro-charter movie funded by the same people behind the 2010 pro-charter, anti-union documentary Waiting for Superman. It’s clear that showing this movie a week after canceling the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’s contract is a shady ploy to manipulate parents into supporting the privatization of public schools.
The Philly Student Union recognized this and we decided that we were going to shut down the event.
Twenty minutes into the film, about 20 members of PSU and I began chanting and making our way to the front of the room in which the movie was being shown. We sat down and continued chanting and clapping. After about a minute of sitting and clapping, they raised the lights and paused the movie. The only SRC member present was Sylvia Simms, and she was livid. She came up to us and screamed “what school do y’all go to? y’all probably go to failing schools” and “you belong in jail”. Some people from the Woman’s Christian Alliance also chanted “lock them up! lock them up!”. After another five minutes of chanting, the police came and said that they would start arresting people if we did not leave. As we were escorted out of the building, we continued to clap and chant.
It is completely unacceptable for a member of the School District’s governing body to ridicule students the way Simms did. Whether or not we go to “failing” schools is irrelevant — ALL student voices matter. I wish I could say that I’m shocked by her actions-but I’m not. The SRC is appointed and therefore doesn’t have to answer to the people. This is why we need an elected school board. We need school board members who represent and answer to the people, not Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter.
Editor: Here’s the video of last night’s action